Editor's note: Following is another installment in the continuing series, Faith in Fairfield, featuring contributions from the many communities of faith in town. For information, contact John Schwing at jschwing@ctpost.com.

Looking at my calendar recently, it seemed that almost every hour of every day in the month of December is occupied with one activity or another. For a moment, I began to panic. How will I ever meet all these obligations? How can I do it all?

Thank God for the season of Advent! This season of preparation for the birth of Christ gives us exactly what we need in the midst of our over-programmed lives. We're all busy, pressed for time and stretched too thin. In December, we'll never make it to all of our Christmas parties and family gatherings; we'll never get all our shopping done, online or otherwise; we'll never get any rest at all, unless we start embracing the concept of the season of Advent.

This is our time to slow down in the face of the mad rush of the world, our time to pause and reflect. In the Catholic Church, the Advent season sees two great feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. The first is the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Dec. 8. The second is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12, commemorating Mary's apparition in Mexico. These great feasts turn our attention to the Virgin Mary, who, Scripture tells us, "Kept all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Luke 2:19, cf. Luke 2:51).

Imagine Mary's meditations in the final weeks of her pregnancy! What joy must have filled her heart! She knew that she was to give birth to the Messiah, the Son of God, the one foretold by all the prophets. The human life growing in her womb was, at the same time, the all-powerful Divinity, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. How her heart must have burned with joy and anticipation!

Do our hearts burn with a joy or anticipation that is even remotely similar? During the Advent season, the Church invites us to contemplate Mary. In her, we find a woman totally prepared to accept the Will of God in her life. With courage and confidence, she embraced the power of her femininity and her maternity. With total trust and surrender, she became the instrument through which God would accomplish His plan for our salvation.

In the midst of a busy world, Mary paused to listen. She pondered and prepared her heart. She allowed her Advent season -- all nine months of it -- to form her heart in preparation for Jesus. We have four weeks, and they are all but gone. In what remains of our far-too-occupied Advent season, let us pause with Mary, reflecting on God's blessings in this last year and joyfully anticipating His blessings in the year to come. Let us prepare our hearts to receive Jesus at Christmas, so that we can say with Mary, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!" (Luke 1:46).

ST. PIUS X ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

834 Brookside Drive, Fairfield

203-255-6134 / www.st-pius.org

PASTOR: Msgr. Lawrence J. Carroll

HISTORY: On October 25, 1955, Bishop Lawrence Shehan established the parish of St. Pius X. A few weeks later Father Francis X. McGuire, the first pastor, took up residence in the "new" rectory -- the white frame farmhouse. The church was built in 1958. There were 464 families that made up the first parishioners of our parish.

NUMBER OF PARISHIONERS: about 1,800 families

PROGRAMS: Small Group Study for Moms, Support Ministry, Prayer Line, Youth Groups, Adult and Children's Choirs, book club, bereavement ministry

SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES: volunteering with or donating to Catholic Charities' Loaves and Fishes program and Casey Family Services